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Samsung’s latest attempt at competing with Apple comes in the form of their new Galaxy Book Pros, a Windows 10 equipped laptop that is certainly… a laptop.
The review could end right here and we’d all probably leave a little satisfied, as Samsung has created what I’d consider being the absolute baseline for what a laptop should be and do. It’s not particularly expensive in comparison to other models, it’s fairly thin and has a good screen.
There’s just nothing remotely cool to talk about, as the Galaxy Book Pro we got in is not only the base model but not great at anything too taxing. If I were to categorize this into something to give you the boiled-down version is that it’s the perfect Parent Laptop. There are no frills, it’s fairly nippy when browsing or doing any kind of productivity work, but it’s not supposed to be aimed at the parents, but those who need a Pro laptop.
Inside ours was an Intel i5 EVO, Intel’s new processor designed specifically for laptops. It brings a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB-C port, and a USB-A port. It’s clearly the absolute bare minimum to compete with Samsung’s renewed rivalry with Apple (their latest phone trailers ensure you know they still think this), but ultimately the laptop just doesn’t do anything past this bare minimum.
This can be upgraded to an i7 and 16GB of RAM, which, if you have the money, I’d highly recommend you do. Too often I felt the brunt of the 8GB of RAM causing productivity and the light creative work I was doing to hit a very, very hard wall. The 13″ version just doesn’t seem very good in comparison to what else Samsung is offering.
While Photoshop was fine, DaVinci Resolve, which is very hungry as you begin to progress through a project, struggled to give me a steady playback for MP4 files because this laptop has no discrete graphics card – by design.
During these more intense tasks and in performance mode, the fan did start to spin up quite loudly as the laptop began to get quite toasty at the very peak of the workload. This isn’t all bad, at least I knew it was doing anything remotely intense.
Without any trimmings like a separate graphics card or options to upgrade it past the 16GB of RAM on Samsung’s store, I’m not entirely sure how we can recommend this over the abundance of better laptops out there at the moment.
If you’re wanting to game on the go, there’s too many to pick from that might be better for you. At the end of the day, this laptop isn’t intended for gaming, it can do it to some degree, but this is clearly for productivity and anything below the 16GB mark just isn’t going to cut it on that front either.
For creativity, Dell and Asus seem to have this covered in droves. At least the single NVMe drive is upgradable, but the RAM is now soldered on thanks to the EVO chip inside.
Then again, for a Pro laptop, why should I have to consider an upgrade?
Outside of more intense tasks, the keyboard feels great while I type on it and I actually really enjoy that it comes with this real bright screen. Video pops, it handles 4K pretty well – though sometimes I did have to put on the performance mode – and the speakers are adequate enough to not really reach for my headphones.
Having the option for the various performance modes directly on the keyboard is pretty neat, but I think seeing the battery life actually in action and genuinely live up to Intel’s current marketing blast about how it can last all day, is comforting to know that the future of computing on the go isn’t going to have us all running for chargers.
Here’s the thing about the Galaxy Book Pro 13″, I can’t recommend it. It’s so basic, so utterly forgettable that as a piece of tech that you might have to use every day, there are just better options out there. If you only need to type and browse, the entire Chromebook range will do you justice, while if you’re looking for a “pro” laptop, there are just even better options out in the world. Ones with graphics cards or better options to work with or entirely new systems, like the Apple M1, where software is being actively designed with its capabilities in mind.
So if you’re interested in the laptop, maybe just go in with less than “pro” expectations and maybe stick more with the thought of “this is just a laptop”. It won’t do anything incredible, but it’ll do certain things well.
I will say though, for a Pro laptop, this thing is crammed with absolute garbage. McAfee ads constantly popping up, useless Samsung branded apps for functions built into Windows at an operating system level and it just irritates me to no end. Why do I need a specific app for searching for files, when it’s not very quick and the Windows Search Bar has improved enough to warrant it being useless. If I wanted to quickly hunt through my PC for something, it would not be through a Samsung app.
It’s everywhere and if you do wind up buying this laptop, I can only say to spend the first hour or so clearing it of all these weird different programs that you honestly will never use and just linger like a bad smell.
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At the start, I said that this is more for parents than pros, but when I think about it a little more, maybe students are the ones for these types of laptops? It won’t do anything too intense, but editing around on Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve in 1080p is fairly capable and the very light gaming it can do should keep them entertained.
It’s why we didn’t recommend it for students, but instead the larger 15″ version with an i7 and 16GB of RAM. That one is more than enough to take them through the 3 or 4 years of college they have in front of them. I’d also recommend a secondary, larger monitor to go along with it if they had any intense essays or anything going on, as regardless of screen size, it’s going to get claustrophobic.
If you need a laptop, I could never point to the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 13″ immediately. After playing 20-questions, I’d still wind up recommending something entirely different. It’s a laptop, distilled to its purest form and stuffed with Samsung’s bloatware.